The Hypocrisies of Susan Rice

by JUSTIN DOOLITTLE

Back in August, New York Times journalist Mark Landler wrote a gushing profile of Susan Rice, exploring the national security adviser’s alleged “idealism” when it comes to foreign policy and her increasingly influential role in the Obama administration. Landler documented how Rice, an “outspoken defender of human rights,” had managed to rein in her fervent humanitarian impulses and accept the need for “pragmatism” – after all, the United States cannot save everyone, everywhere. Sadly, our beneficence is constrained by practical realities.

Now we find Landler once again writing about Ms. Rice’s new realist approach to the Middle East and how it has impacted the president’s policy priorities in the region. In a piece published over the weekend, for which Rice provided an interview, Landler doesn’t even attempt to conceal his admiration for the brilliant strategist:

For Ms. Rice, 48, who previously served as ambassador to the United Nations, it is an uncharacteristic imprint. A self-confident foreign policy thinker and expert on Africa, she is known as a fierce defender of human rights, advocating military intervention, when necessary. She was among those who persuaded Mr. Obama to back a NATO air campaign in Libya to avert a slaughter of the rebels by Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.

First, this paragraph does not belong in the news section of the Times. Landler is clearly editorializing about a government official he likes and respects very much. This is not “reporting” as that term is defined by outlets like the New York Times.

Furthermore, consider the substance of this commentary about Rice, who, we are told, is “known as a fierce defender of human rights.” This raises some obvious questions. Where, exactly, is she “known” for her advocacy in this regard? Who are the people that purportedly view Rice as a champion of human rights? Not the people of Africa, one may assume, given that Rice, over the course of her career, has “shown an unsettling sympathy” for some of the continent’s most brutal tyrants.

In perhaps the most glaring example, Rice was able to suspend her “fierce” support for human rights long enough to strongly support Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia, a violent and repressive ruler who died in 2012. Rice called him “brilliant” and considered him a “true friend,” although she admitted to having some differences of opinion with the great man, over such trivial issues as democracy and human rights. But why let petty stuff like that come between friends?

Rice’s “self-confident foreign policy thinking” has never included any discernible consideration of the plight of the Palestinians, perhaps the most oppressed people on Earth. Her views have never strayed even an inch from the standard line that all “serious” U.S. officials must take when it comes to Israel.

Even a cursory view of Susan Rice’s career shows that her idea of “fiercely defending human rights” is essentially indistinguishable from that of virtually every other official in Washington: victims of human rights abuses are accorded dramatically different degrees of sympathy depending on the abusers’ standing with the U.S. Government. Imprisoned, suffering Gazans might as well not exist. Ditto for political prisoners in Ethiopia, or victims of terrorism in Colombia, or the countless families who have had loved ones killed by U.S. military interventions over the past few decades (all of which Rice has supported).

Mark Landler and the New York Times may genuinely do not know about Rice’s flagrant hypocrisy, or they may simply be propagandizing for a particularly favored official. The latter is certainly more likely. Either way, calling a consistent advocate of military violence and repression a “fierce defender of human rights” is a clear – though unsurprising – failure of journalistic honesty. That label should only be applied to those who believe human rights are universal and are not dependent on the victims’ worthiness in the geopolitical perspective of the United States.

Justin Doolittle writes a political blog called Crimethink. He has an M.A. in public policy from Stony Brook University and a B.A. in political science from Coastal Carolina University.

Justin Doolittle is a freelance writer based in Long Island, New York. You can follow him on Twitter @JD1871.

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
August 31, 2015
Michael Hudson
Whitewashing the IMF’s Destructive Role in Greece
Conn Hallinan
Europe’s New Barbarians
Lawrence Ware
George Bush (Still) Doesn’t Care About Black People
Joseph Natoli
Plutocracy, Gentrification and Racial Violence
Franklin Spinney
One Presidential Debate You Won’t Hear: Why It is Time to Adopt a Sensible Grand Strategy
Dave Lindorff
What’s Wrong with Police in America
Louis Proyect
Jacobin and “The War on Syria”
Lawrence Wittner
Militarism Run Amok: How Russians and Americans are Preparing Their Children for War
Binoy Kampmark
Tales of Darkness: Europe’s Refugee Woes
Ralph Nader
Lo, the Poor Enlightened Billionaire!
Peter Koenig
Greece: a New Beginning? A New Hope?
Dean Baker
America Needs an “Idiot-Proof” Retirement System
Vijay Prashad
Why the Iran Deal is Essential
Tom Clifford
The Marco Polo Bridge Incident: a History That Continues to Resonate
Peter Belmont
The Salaita Affair: a Scandal That Never Should Have Happened
Weekend Edition
August 28-30, 2015
Randy Blazak
Donald Trump is the New Face of White Supremacy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Long Time Coming, Long Time Gone
Mike Whitney
Looting Made Easy: the $2 Trillion Buyback Binge
Alan Nasser
The Myth of the Middle Class: Have Most Americans Always Been Poor?
Rob Urie
Wall Street and the Cycle of Crises
Andrew Levine
Viva Trump?
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Behind the Congressional Disagreements Over the Iran Nuclear Deal
Lawrence Ware – Marcus T. McCullough
I Won’t Say Amen: Three Black Christian Clichés That Must Go
Evan Jones
Zionism in Britain: a Neglected Chronicle
John Wight
Learning About the Migration Crisis From Ancient Rome
Andre Vltchek
Lebanon – What if it Fell?
Charles Pierson
How the US and the WTO Crushed India’s Subsidies for Solar Energy
Robert Fantina
Hillary Clinton, Palestine and the Long View
Ben Burgis
Gore Vidal Was Right: What Best of Enemies Leaves Out
Suzanne Gordon
How Vets May Suffer From McCain’s Latest Captivity
Robert Sandels - Nelson P. Valdés
The Cuban Adjustment Act: the Other Immigration Mess
Uri Avnery
The Molten Three: Israel’s Aborted Strike on Iran
John Stanton
Israel’s JINSA Earns Return on Investment: 190 Americans Admirals and Generals Oppose Iran Deal
Bill Yousman
The Fire This Time: Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “Between the World and Me”
Scott Parkin
Katrina Plus Ten: Climate Justice in Action
Michael Welton
The Conversable World: Finding a Compass in Post-9/11 Times
Brian Cloughley
Don’t be Black in America
Kent Paterson
In Search of the Great New Mexico Chile Pepper in a Post-NAFTA Era
Binoy Kampmark
Live Death on Air: The Killings at WDBJ
Gui Rochat
The Guise of American Democracy
Emma Scully
Vultures Over Puerto Rico: the Financial Implications of Dependency
Chuck Churchill
Is “White Skin Privilege” the Key to Understanding Racism?
Kathleen Wallace
The Id(iots) Emerge
Andrew Stewart
Zionist Hip-Hop: a Critical Look at Matisyahu
Gregg Shotwell
The Fate of the UAW: Study, Aim, Fire